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  #161  
Old 05-11-2008, 01:50 AM
Jswitow Jswitow is offline
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Default Snowbird 4/27 & 5/3-4

Seems ages since I posted anything. With the stream closed the month of March I did manage a day or two in the Park. Had one day in the park with snow flying when they rainbows were eager to take a quill gordon with near abandon!
Can't say I have had much in the dry fly fishing on Snowbird yet. I have spent several hours floating dries to no avail. Switching to nymphs has proved that there are still a few fish in the creek. Weekend before last the nymph fishing was even slow until a downpour occured, it was as if someone flipped a switch, the fish seemd to be taking the nymphs at the bottom of the drift, when the fly swung and started to rise. I think I managed 5 fish in an hour with the best a strong 14 or 15" bow, with perfect scales and fins. I like to think these are immature fish up from the lake chasing the young fish in the stream, but they may be stockers. One certainly was; a 13 or 14" brookie, had to be a stocker where I caught it......... miles below the backcountry. Water temps so far are in the upper 50's, made my knees hurt without waders. (couldn't be age Steve!)
Have not seen many bugs on the lantern yet either, no golden stones at all yet. I hope the floods from winter haven't scoured the creek....... or something hasn't poisened the creek and killed the bugs.... paranoia! I hope.
I will get back in a week or two and the large golden stones ought to be making an appearance, I will keep you posted. If I can find a pic I will post.
I bet I have just killed an hour trying to post some photos to photobucket, can't get it done tonight for some reason, too tired I bet.
Will try later.
Best,
John
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  #162  
Old 06-22-2008, 12:31 PM
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PeteCz PeteCz is offline
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Default Middle Falls, Snowbird Creek - 6.21.08

First off, let me apologize for the length of this post. If you're in a hurry, you need to skip this one....

I had made up my mind to try a "daytrip from ****". The most I had ever hiked/fished in a day before was an 8 mile r/t up Fish Camp Prong earlier this year. I had thought long and hard about making the trip up Snowbird Creek to Middle Falls (14 miles r/t), and after my camping trip fell through this weekend, I decided to give it a try.

From Maryville its about an hour and 50 minutes over the Dragon and down to the trailhead and I was there at 8:45a. At the trailhead I talked to a man who has lots of experience fishing Snowbird but due to his advanced age, no longer makes the hike up to the Brookie water, instead he focuses his attention on the gorge area just upstream of the trail and chasing browns (in the 20" range, according to him). For Brookies, he suggested going all the way up to Middle Falls (7 miles one way) by taking the overland shortcut from Big Falls (Lower Falls) to Middle Falls instead of the 12 dicey watercrossings. We talked for about 15 minutes and as we did, some other guys were gearing up and getting ready to head out. He told me to take off before I ended up fishing behind them.

I quickly threw on my pack and since I had already studied the map the night before, stuffed it in my pocket and took off. I went onto the trail straight ahead from my parking spot and quickly came to a very nice foot bridge (much like the Goshen Gate Bridge) and then to a much older footlog crossing of a tributary, and then started to climb. And Climb. And Climb. After about 15 minutes of climbing it occurred to me that maybe I was not going the right way. The creek was completely out of earshot and hadn't the map said something about an old railroad grade?

I pulled out the map and to my disbelief realized that I was about a mile up the wrong trail and heading in the opposite direction. So now, instead of "merely" a 14 mile r/t I was looking at 16 miles, minimum. I hiked back down to the main bridge, back on the left side of the stream and back to the parking area, and there to the left was the trailhead (much smaller and less obvious, but there, nonetheless). It was now 9:30. I started hiking.

Thankfully the trail (which really looks like a dismantled railway bed) was relatively easy. I believe that its only about 800' of elevation change over the first 5 miles up to Big Falls. In about an hour I made it up to Sassafras Creek (there is a very old car from the 30s in remarkable shape abandoned on the trailside) and in a couple more minutes made it to the Sassafras Creek Trailhead. The Snowbird Creek trail runs high above the stream and offers very few glimpses of the gorge section and even fewer ways to get down to it. At Sassafras Creek you could get down to the stream and fish from there if you were so inclined. I kept hiking and at the hour and a half mark I made it to Big Falls.

You can see Big Falls (a series of cascades) through the trees on the trail, but can never get a really good look at it. The trail finally comes down to the water above Big Falls and at the start of Brookie waters. At this point the trail gets tricky. You cross over the stream to the right side and a nice campsite. I decided that I was going to take the Old guy's advice and try the overland "shortcut". He said it was steep. Ha! What did he know...

The trail is not really marked, but instead of the Blue blazes for the Snowbird Creek Trail, I spotted a Brown blaze on a tree and took that to mean the shortcut trail. I followed it and lo and behold we started to quickly climb. And Climb. And Climb. When he said steep, he wasn't kidding. My heels never touched the trail for what seemed like a very long time. It was probably only about a quarter of a mile, but it was very, very tough. After the initial climb of death the trail became more gradual and alot easier. I covered the "shortcut" in about 30 minutes and came out onto the stream above Middle Falls. I had covered 9 miles (7 on purpose, 2 by accident), it was 11:15 and I wanted to start fishing...

I cooled down a bit and rigged up. The water temp was 55 degrees and the air temp was 66 degrees. Life was Good. The part of the stream I started at looked like something from another planet. It was not rocky but rather had a large rock formation that had been worn smooth with a few fissures between some of the slabs. This first section didn't hold many fish and those that it did were very spooky. I worked my way upstream and had no luck with a #16 Yellow Stimi. After 30 minutes I started thinking to myself "Please tell me I didn't hike all this way for nothing...after all, people have been known to come up here and catch 100 fish in a day..."

I noticed that the fish were spookier than any I had every seen anywhere before. The water was very flat in most places and the stream didn't have much gradient. There were very few pocket areas where Brookies had to grab and run with their food, these fish could afford themselves a longer look at anything floating by. The canopy over the stream was another problem, as well. It didn't just surround the stream, in enveloped it and hung down and touched the water from both side. It was bushwacking in the middle of the stream, in spots. Roll casting was about the only tactic that would work (in some places up to 50' with a 3wt - yikes). These Brookies would scatter like dark torpedoes everytime you made a wrong step. It took alot of effort to catch the first 3 or 4.

But after awhile I started catching them with more regularity. I had switched to my new go-to fly the #14 Mr Rapidan Cripple and got into a pretty good rhythm. I wound up passing on about 60-70% of the stream and only fished the areas where I knew I could stay hidden and wouldn't be as likely to get tangled in the canopy. It didn't always work, but I wound up being more successful. In the end, I caught about 25 fish. Most were 7-8 inches or larger including a 9.5 incher and 10.5-11 incher. I was amazed at the average size of them. This is a great stream and despite my troubles and frustration at times, thoroughly enjoyed myself.



I fished up above the confluence with Flat Branch as it was approaching 5pm, so I decided that it was time start working my way back. I had decided to fish some of the stream crossings between Big Falls and Middle Falls on the way out, instead of taking the "shortcut". I wanted to see if there really was 12 stream crossings. It had also started raining, so it made the decision to head out all the easier. Most of the trail above Middle Falls is on the right side of the stream and I made my way back in about 10 minutes (leading me to believe that I had covered about .75 miles above Middle Falls).

There are 12 crossings. He didn't exaggerate. I fished a few of them. I found the section between Big Falls and Middle Falls more to my liking. The character of the stream was quite different than above Middle Falls. It was rockier, had fewer long pools and had much higher canopy. It reminded me of LR above Elkmont. The stream also had more of a gradient. I fished a few of the crossings and picked up some smaller brookies. At some point, I'd like to start fishing in this section. I believe the fish may be smaller, but they are definitely less spooky. I tried to keep track of the length of time it took to go from Middle Falls to Big Falls (less the time I spent fishing in between) and it seems to be about 5-10 minutes longer than the overland route (35-40 minutes total). I was wearing my Korkers wading/hiking boots so the water crossings were no problem, but someone in hiking boots would have an awful time. I left my felt soles on until I made it down to Big Falls and then switched to the lug soles for the hike out.

The hike out from Big Falls took a bit less than 90 minutes, but not much. I was definitely tired and slower than normal. I made it back to the car at about 8pm and talked for awhile to a local kid who had caught, and was cleaning, four Browns over 12", one of which was 16". On the way home I went the back way over the Cherohala Skyway, instead of the Dragon. It took about 20-30 minutes longer and was about 20 miles further, but it was an incredible drive at sunset and a very pleasant alternative. I may have to go that way again, next time...

Final totals: 25 Brookies, one pushing 11" in 5 hours.
Total Hiking/Fishing: 17.5 Miles (14 Planned, 1.5 in/along the stream, 2 unplanned...)
Hiking Times: to Big Falls 90 Minutes. from Big to Middle 30 minutes
Driving: 70 Miles over the Dragon in 1:50, 90 Miles on the Cherohala Skyway in 2:15
Left home: 6:30am
Returned home: 10:3pm

It was a "Day Trip"
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  #163  
Old 06-23-2008, 10:50 AM
Jswitow Jswitow is offline
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Default Day Trip on Snowbird

Pete,
Glad to hear you had such a day! That is a beautiful fish you posted. Sorry to hear about the locals killing the browns, but that is their way. Not much point in discussing it, they've heard it before. 17 miles in a day is alot of ground to cover! I made the mistake you made the first time I headed over there in 1998........ with 50 lb pack! We camped in the area just to the right as you came off the short cut. I don't think I could carry the pack that far now. Anyway glad you had a good day. I'd make the trip with you sometime if you want.
John
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  #164  
Old 06-23-2008, 04:16 PM
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Speckleman5 Speckleman5 is offline
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I don't think locals are the only ones who keep fish. But I guess that "is our way". It never hurts to keep a few fish, some people do like to eat.

Last edited by Speckleman5; 06-23-2008 at 04:17 PM.. Reason: typo
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  #165  
Old 06-23-2008, 04:48 PM
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PeteCz PeteCz is offline
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John, Thanks for sharing all of the information you have over the last two years. Its taken me awhile to get over there, but I'm glad I finally did. I was wondering about the section of the stream above Junction, but below Big Falls that I believe is referred to as the Gorge. It doesn't look like there are many (any) ways out, once you are in on the left side of the stream. Is there a path of sorts on the right hand side? Or do you have to walk back down the streambed? Or bushwhack up to the trail (a few hundred feet above the stream)?

There is a lot of water down there that must hardly ever get fished. I bet there are some nice fish to be found. I would love to try out some of that stretch in the future. Do you think its worth the effort? Would you be interested? petecz@charter.net I would love to give the steelhead fishing a try as well. There's not much else to do in Jan/Feb anyway...

Speckleman, I agree with you, it wasn't only locals that were eating their catch. The old guy I talked to was from Florida, and he was eating his catch, as well. The funny thing about the kid who was cleaning the fish is that he said he would like to see regulations put in place to make the stream C&R only. An interesting idea, but judging by the misuse that some of the campsites get, I bet plenty of folks wouldn't pay any attention to any regulations (especially with minimal enforcement available). He said there were two guys last week that came out with a trashbag full of specs. I hope he was exaggerating, but you never know.
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  #166  
Old 06-23-2008, 05:10 PM
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I don't doubt it, people rarely observe the regulations put in place. I know how much pressure that area gets along the gravel road and I doubt there is anything you could do to keep people from breaking the rules. But most of the fish that are being kept out of there are stocked. Regardless, people are going to break the rules any chance they get. My whole point was that the kid only had 4 fish....he obviously wasn't breaking the creel limit.
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  #167  
Old 06-26-2008, 10:05 PM
Jswitow Jswitow is offline
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Default Keeping Fish

Speckleman5,
I don't mind people keeping a few fish, I'd keep a few more if my wife and son cared for them. Wish they would keep all of the stockers, and put the wild fish back. That would be great.
Pete there are a few spots up through there where you can get out fairly easily. I don't think there are any trails along that section though, pretty much just rhododendron(sp?) h__l! I would like to fish that section with you and certainly welcome you to come over in the winter. I rarely see anyone else out there through the winter. The runs are not a guarantee, last year was a banger, the year before I never landed a fish over 17", though I do remember hooking (only) two large fish that came unbuttoned, they were definitely head-shak'n beasts! I bet this year will be a good run, I can just feel it!
Best,
John
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  #168  
Old 10-27-2008, 08:23 PM
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PeteCz PeteCz is offline
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Default Daytrip from **** - Part II

I'm not sure what possesses me sometimes.

After two weekends of being skunked (first on Slickrock Creek/Straight Fork, and then on the SOHO), I should have called it a year and just waited for the spring, but.....

I couldn't end with two shutouts.

Instead of going someplace easy where I know what I'm doing and have a decent chance to catch fish, like WPLP, I decided that I needed to go someplace with more adventure...

I should have known better.

Yesterday when I woke up, for no good reason (does insanity count as a good reason), I decided to hop in the car and head back to the Brookie section of Snowbird Creek. I had pretty decent luck there in the early Summer, so I figured I could give it another shot and end the year on a good note. Big Mistake.

The drive over to Snowbird was nice. A nice layer of fog was burning off Santeetlah Lake by the time I made it over the Dragon and to the stream. I was amazed that there were no cars on the road up to the stream (I should have wondered why...). There was no one camping (no one...again, I should have thought about why...). No one at the trailhead (why...). I literally had 18 miles of stream to myself (why...).

I hopped out of the truck and quickly geared up for the 5 mile hike to Big Falls. I pulled out my digital thermometer and watched the readout start falling 56...54...52... It did feel a little brisk, come to think of it. 50...48...46... Ok, so maybe it's a bit colder than I though it would be (wasn't it supposed to be 70 degrees). 44...42...40... Now, for the first time I start second-guessing myself (of course it's now 10:30am and I'm 2 hrs away from home), maybe this isn't such a good idea...

Then in the back of my head I start rationalizing...Its more of a hike than a fishing trip...if I don't catch any fish, the 10 miles of hiking will be good for me. Right! Let's go! So off I went. I made it up above Big Falls abut 90 minutes later. I pulled out the digital thermometer again. The temp at 12 noon was now 45...The water temp was 42...perfect (if you're a steelhead...)

Needless to say I had no luck catching or even spotting a fish. I tried just about everything with not even a splash. I didn't even spook fish. They were nowhere to be found...After about 3.5 hrs, I packed it in and hiked back. The air temp made it up to 50, but was already dropping by the time I headed out. On the hike out, I ran into two guys that were hiking in and wanted to know how I did (and where they could find the nearest campsite). They were about 200 yards from the nice site at the Sassafras Creek confluence. I hope they did better today than I did yesterday.

After what seemed like an eternity (the knees and hips were starting to really complain the last 3 miles) I made it back to the car. On the way home, I stopped at a pullout along the road and cast an EHC a few times. On the third drift, POW!....a 2" rainbow! Normally that fish wouldn't count, but in this case...

Recap:
- Miles hiked: 10
- Hours driving/hiking: 7
- Hours fishing: 3.5
- Fish caught: 1
- Ouch

Yearly Recap:
- Fished in TN/NC: 33 trips
- Fished in CO: 1 - 10 day trip
- General assessment: Fewer fish than 2007, but on average the fish seemed a bit larger

I think maybe I'm done for the year....maybe...
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  #169  
Old 10-27-2008, 09:34 PM
Jswitow Jswitow is offline
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Default Trip from He__!

Pete,
At least you got out there. I took my wife and son to Elkmont yesterday and we did no better than you! You did have a beautiful day of it anyway! Probably would have gone with you had I known you were going. My wife and son really would have preferred staying home (I think!). I would have talked (or tried anyway!) you into fishing below the confluence of Little and Big Snowbirds. Very enjoyable writing by the way. I have had days over there in the fall when they would rise to a dry, (usually a big pale yellow, or an adams size 10-14) but they have been few. Usually fish heavy nymphs from now until spring in the deeper pools. I will try to get you over there over the winter, if the run seems to pan out. I have had a few decent silvery rainbows and browns already this fall, so am hopeful (always!)for a good run.
Best,
John
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  #170  
Old 10-28-2008, 09:47 AM
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PeteCz PeteCz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jswitow View Post
I will try to get you over there over the winter
John, I absolutely want to make it back over in the winter. I just sent you an email.
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